HRC52 – Item 4: General Debate – Statement by Estonia to be delivered by H.E Ambassador Katrin Saarsalu-Layachi – 22 March 2023

Mr. President,

Estonia fully aligns itself with the EU statement. We regret to witness the further deterioration of human rights worldwide. We express our concerns regarding the most serious human rights situations in Myanmar, DPRK, Syria and Ethiopia and refer to previous Nordic-Baltic statements.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has resulted in widespread terror and intolerable suffering. As the International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded, numerous violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as war crimes, are committed by Russian authorities and armed forces. The ICC’s decision to proclaim Vladimir Putin an internationally sought war criminal is an important step towards accountability.

Russia has also weaponised global food security leaving millions of people across the globe at the risk of starvation. The blockade of Ukrainian exports and shelling of major ports and grain storages in Ukraine demonstrates Russia’s complete recklessness and disregard for the global community.

In Russia itself, barely any civil society has been left. Journalists, media workers, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters opposing the war are arrested. Civil society organisations are proclaimed illegal and shut down. This is the true legacy of Putin’s 20 years of presidency.

In Belarus, innocent people are harassed, silenced and sentenced to prison, even Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Over 1000 political prisoners are kept in abusive conditions and the recent expansion of the death penalty demonstrates complete disregard for human rights by Lukashenka.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s continued actions have deprived women of work, education and healthcare, gradually erasing them from public life. At the same time, brave women of Iran are still at the forefront of protests demanding human rights and dignity. This makes us hopeful that one day, justice and humanity might prevail.

I thank you!